I used to call myself Christian based entirely on the fact that it was just what I was raised to call myself.
When I began my walk with God in more recent years, learning about Him and creating a relationship with Him, the term Christ-follower became a new way to describe my faith.
It felt more personal somehow, and more action-focused.
Yes, there is Biblical reference in that the first followers of Christ were dubbed Christians… but at the essence that still meant they were Christ-followers.
Acts 11:26 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found him and brought him back to Antioch. They were there a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching a lot of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
Before the term Christian was used, people who followed Christ were referred to as disciples who were “of the way”. They followed “The Ways of Jesus Christ” and attempted to live as He lived, even if that meant suffering persecution as a result.
What’s Right and Wrong?
Because of the abovementioned reference in the Book of Acts there are some people that believe the term Christian is the only acceptable name for disciples of Jesus.
They believe that people who call themselves Christ-followers are only trying to communicate that they are somehow “better” than a “common Christian”, almost like they are part of some elitist sect of Christianity, set apart from the rest of the Christian believers.
Then there are others who feel folks that refer to themselves as Christ-followers are merely trying to distance themselves from the “bad press” the term Christianity has earned itself in the last 2,000 odd years and adopt a more “politically correct” moniker.
The moral of that story being that if you are calling yourself a Christ-follower because you are ashamed to be called a Christian, oh sinner are thee!
They believe that true followers of Christ should bear the name Christian proudly and not try to water it down with alternative terms. There might even be some truth to that because in the Bible Peter tells us “Don’t be ashamed to suffer for being a Christian.” (Emphasis mine.) Instead we are told to “Praise God that you belong to Him.” (NIV)
The Message puts it this way:
1 Peter 4:16 If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others. If they’re on you because you broke the law or disturbed the peace, that’s a different matter. But if it’s because you’re a Christian, don’t give it a second thought. Be proud of the distinguished status reflected in that name!
As I’ve read all the different blogs and articles eschewing all the reasons why you should or shouldn’t call yourself one or the other, I’ve reached one resounding conclusion.
Who gives a donkey’s arse what you call yourself?
Call yourself a polka dotted rhino if you want!
It doesn’t change your heart.
God always knows your heart.
He knows those that truly belong to Him and those that simply talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Whether you walk around calling yourself a Christian or a Christ-follower, God knows who His children are!
Over to You
What’s your take on the topic? Do you call yourself a Christian? Christ-follower? Something else? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I promise there will be no smiting for a dissenting opinion. Just mind your manners.